Orals Reading List

MedievalRenaissance18th-Century and Romanticism19th Century20th Century
AmericanTheoryTheaterSpecial TopicsSample Overviews

The lists are meant to be suggestive rather than prescriptive, constituting points of reference rather than sets of templates. Full details about orals proposals and field lists.

In brief, the proposal begins with 1-2 paragraphs laying out the overall logic of the three fields (examples appear below under "Overviews"). Each field also includes a short rationale for the selected texts, as well as a representative secondary bibliography (these elements appear in many, but not all, of the samples below; in some samples, the rationales are far more detailed, or the secondary bibliographies more extensive, than they need be). Summary description of the three fields.

A note about terminology: the program now refers to a general field, a related field, and a thesis field (or second related field). Because the following lists are detached from context of the original full proposal, this page retains the older rubrics, categorizing the lists as major and minor fields.

Also note: fields that cross several centuries or that evenly straddle two centuries are listed under Special Topics.



Student Samples

Major FieldVernacular Theological & Exemplary Works in English, 1350-1450
Markets, Theatres, Cultures 1350-1650
Late Medieval Urban Devotion
Literature & Political Life in England c. 1370-1600
History and Time in 14th and 15th Century Texts (1377-1483)
Minor fieldPiers Plowman
Chaucer and Performance
Chaucer and Narrative
Malory in Context
Christine de Pizan
Richardian Literature and its Afterlives
Romance and the Questions of Gender and 'Race'
Medieval Drama
Medieval Hermeneutics and Practices of Reading


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Student Samples

Major fieldEarly Modern English Drama
Tudor-Stuart Drama
English Poets of the Earlier 17th Century
Minor fieldShakespeare
Early Modern Women Writers
The London Book Trade, 1500-1650
British History, 1603-1642
The Historical Phenomenology of Written Communication


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 Eighteeenth Century & Romanticism

Faculty Suggestions

Major fieldGuidelines for Restoration and 18th-Century topics (Davidson)
Romanticism 1780-1830 (Gray)

Student Samples

Major field18th-Century 1660-1800
English Romantic Poetry and Prose


Minor Field18th-Century British Literature
18th-Century Satire
18th-Century Semiotics and Aesthetics
English Romanticism


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Nineteenth Century

Faculty Suggestions

Major FieldVictorian Reading List (Marcus)

Student Samples

Major FieldVictorian Literature
19th-Century British Novel
The Victorian Novel
19th-Century Fiction
The European Bildungsroman
The 19th-Century Novel in France & England and the Discourses
India and Ireland in the Colonial World
Minor fieldVictorian Poetry
Comparative Realisms: Theory and Practice
Religious Thought in 19th-Century England
Dandyism in 19th-Century French & British Literature


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 Twentieth Century

Student Samples

Major fieldBritish Modernism
20th-Century Poetry: Interdependent Modernisms
Aesthetics, Politics, and the Modern European Novel (1869-1989)
Decadence, Aestheticism, and The Rise of Modernism
Sexuality, War and Fascism in Modern Literature
Comparative Modernist Texts
Imperial Modernism
20th-Century Literatures: Colonialism Through Postcolonialism
Magic Realism
The Global Imaginary Since 1945
Postmodern Satire, Encyclopedism, and the Poetic of Excess
Minor fieldBritish Modernism
The Poetry of William Butler Yeats
The Novels and Essays of Virginia Woolf
20th-Century Experimental Fictions
20th-Century Fantastic Literature
Modernist "Crisis"
Modernist Women Writers
Mapping Nation and Other Communities
20th-Century Texts: Time, Narrative and the Modern
The Contemporary Indian Novel
Caribbean Fiction by Women

Contemporary Transnational Literature


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Faculty Suggestions

Major FieldAmerican Literature, 1940 to the Present (Adams)

Student Samples

Major FieldAmerican Literature from the Revolution to the Civil War
American Literature from Revolution to Renaissance
Literature of the American Frontier

American Literature, 1814-1929

American Literature 1850-1950
20th-Century American Poetry
American Literature 1920-2000
African American Literature Beginnings to Present
American Modernism and Hollywood Genre Film
Minor field19th-Century American Literature
American Literature from 1830 to the Turn of the Century
Walt Whitman: The Americanization of Romanticism
Herman Melville
U.S. Literature 1922-1939
American Hard-boiled and Noir Crime Fiction, 1920-1960
Contemporary Native American Novels
The American Epic
Queer Poetry in 20th-Century America
Black Women and Their Fictions in the 20th-Century
Asian American Transnational History 1850-1950
Racial Passing and Masquerade in American Culture

Latin American and U.S. Latino Literatures


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Student Samples

MajorMarxism and the Interpretation of Culture
MinorNarrative Theory
Frankfurt School Theorists and Their Interlocutors
Theories of Self and Desire (Psychoanalysis)
Structuralism and Poststructuralism
Feminism and Material Culture
Theories and Practices of Reading


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[see also Medieval, Renaissance, & 18th Century fields for theater topics]

Student Samples

Major fieldModern Drama: Dehumanized Protagonists & Corrupt Society
Modern/Contemporary Drama and Film
The European Avant Garde: Artaud, Brecht, and Genet
Minor fieldVirtual Theater
Theater about the Theater
American Performance 1787-1992
French Classicist Drama
Topics in Greek Tragedy


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Special Topics


Minor fieldPoetry and Poetics (Gray)

Student Samples

Major fieldThe Novel: From Realism to Modernism
Theories of History/ Modern & Contemporary Drama
Minor fieldTurn-of-the-Century Realism
Modern Moral and Ethical Theories
Genre Fusion: Theater and the Novel
Literary Ecology
"Englishness" and "Jewishness"


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Sample Overviews/ Rationales for the 3 Chosen Fields

Overview 1

Markets, Theatres, Cultures 1350-1650

Richardian Literature and its Afterlives

Romance and the Questions of Gender and 'Race'

Overview 2

Tudor-Stuart Drama

The London Book Trade, 1500-1650

British History, 1603-1642

Overview 3

 Victorian Literature

"Englishness" and "Jewishness"

British Modernism

Overview 4

 American Literature, 1814-1929

American Performance, 1787-1992


Overview 5

20th-century Poetry: Interdependent Modernisms

English Romanticism

The Novels and Essays of Virginia Woolf

Overview 6

 India and Ireland in the Colonial World

The Poetry of William Butler Yeats

The Contemporary Indian Novel

Overview 7

American Literature 1850-1950

Asian American Transnational History 1850-1945

Modernist Subjectivity Between Empire and Oriental Metropolis

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